Sunday, January 15, 2012
Kane victim of Niemi's great save
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- It’s fortunate the Chicago Blackhawks won by a goal instead of losing by that margin, or else Patrick Kane might have needed an afternoon on a psychiatrist’s couch.
The already snake-bitten forward had several chances to score on his old teammate Antti Niemi early in the Hawks' 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, but none were better than his open-net opportunity midway through the first period. Niemi went from his right to his left, making a diving glove save on a laser shot by Kane. It was as good a save a goalie will make.
“I thought I had the whole open net,” Kane said. “And usually a one-time in the middle of the net goes in, but he made a great save on it. I thought I was going to get off the bench and go to the locker room and take off my equipment to be honest with you.”
That’s how down Kane felt at the time. He’s already struggling to score goals, getting just one over his last 13 games and just 10 in the first 46 contests.
With the game scoreless, Jonathan Toews was flying down the left side of the ice with the puck. As Niemi came over to challenge him, Toews sent it back to the middle and right onto Kane’s stick. The one-time chance ended up in Niemi’s glove.
“I don’t know if I wanted to smile or cry afterwards,” Kane said. “Great goaltender. We witnessed that here a couple years ago. He had some great games in this building.”
His teammates were just as much in awe. Luckily the goal didn’t come back to haunt Kane or the team. His line with Toews and Viktor Stalberg still had a great night.
“You try that 100 times, you’re probably going to score on 99,” Stalberg said.
Shaw impresses again
Both coaches, Joel Quenneville and Todd McLellan, had high praise for Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw, who scored the game-winner by crashing the net in the third period. But he did more than just tally the fourth goal of his young career.
“It’s pretty remarkable you’ve got a guy like Shaw that comes up and gives you some offense,” Quenneville said. “But his instincts in all aspects of the game are high-end. I thought he had a special game tonight. He brings some energy to our team game.”
In addition to his goal, Shaw had four other shots on net, three hits and was a perfect 6-for-6 in the face-off circle.
“I thought the Shaw kid had a great game, out-did our group, there’s no doubt about it,” McLellan said.
Shaw is taking it all in stride and is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
“It’s nice they like how I play,” he said. “It’s always how I’ve played so I’m going to stick to it.”
The Blackhawks attempted 72 shots on goal (40 on goal, 16 blocked, 16 missed) while San Jose attempted 34.
Shaw became the first Blackhawks player since 2003 to score four goals in the first seven games of his NHL career.
Nick Leddy tallied his 20th assist of the year in the first period. He is the fourth defenseman in Blackhawks history to post a 20-helper season before turning 21 years old, joining Brent Seabrook, Keith Brown and Doug Wilson.
"I don’t know if the puck had a Blackhawks logo on it and we thought we had to give it back to them, but we certainly did for at least the first half of the game." -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan
“I was just trying to get it down to my stick somehow, I didn’t think I had a kicking motion.” -- Viktor Stalberg, on his disallowed third-period goal.